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  • Codes of Practice and Conduct for forensic science providers and practitioners in the Criminal Justice System

    Version 2.0

    August 2014

    35

    © Crown Copyright 2014

    The text in this document (excluding the Forensic Science Regulator‟s logo) may be reproduced in any format or medium providing it is reproduced accurately, is not otherwise attributed, is not used in a misleading context and is acknowledged as Crown copyright.

  • Codes of Practice and Conduct

    FSR-Codes v2.0 Page 2 of 56

    Foreword

    The first edition of the Codes of Practice and Conduct (the Codes) drew on a lot of experience from providers, the Crown Prosecution Service and the United Kingdom Accreditation Service, as well as incorporating lessons learnt from the cases which underpinned the need for a Regulator in the first place. I am pleased that the quality culture is developing well, quality failures are being reported, investigated and improvements made. This is a maturing quality environment, and great deal of progress has been achieved over the last few years. I am pleased that the Codes are now available as an extension to scope to ISO17025:2005, and these requirements have been incorporated into the statement of accreditation requirements contained in this edition of the Codes. Most changes in this second edition are to assist interpretation and are generally marked up in grey, the statement of accreditation requirements has been restructured so readers are advised to take carful note of the entire table.

    I believe the courts have always called for demonstrable competence of those professing to be experts. There is an expectation the methods that they base their opinions are indeed valid. I am pleased that the Criminal Procedure Rules Committee have recently added an onus on experts to provide such information in their reports as the court may need to decide whether the expert‟s opinion is sufficiently reliable to be admissible as evidence. I am delighted that the Lord Chief Justice has amended the Criminal Practice Directions1 that supplement part 33 of the Criminal Procedure Rules2 – therefore giving courts guidance on what may be taken into account in determining the reliability of expert opinion. My summation of the factors (33A.5) which the court are invited to take into account in determining the reliability of expert opinion are as follows:

    a. The extent and quality of data, and the validity of the method used; b. If the opinion properly explains how safe or unsafe any inference made is; c. Accuracy of the method (e.g. estimation of uncertainty of measurement); d. The extent to which any material upon which the expert‟s opinion is based has

    been reviewed by others; e. Range of expertise; f. Completeness of information available to the expert; g. If there is a range of expert opinion on the matter in question; and h. Any divergence from established practice in the field.

    Time will tell how the courts will interpret these directions, although I am convinced that these requirements are well covered in the Codes, and I believe adherence to the validation and accreditation requirements will go a long way towards satisfying the amendment to the Criminal Practice Directions.

    Most of the target dates I laid down in the first edition of the Codes stand. I fully appreciate the time it takes to achieve international standards and I gave long lead times in the first edition of the Codes to fully achieve them. Despite considerable success in some fields, I

    1 Available from: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/criminal-practice-directions-amendment-no-2/

    [Accessed 13/08/14]

    2 Available from: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1610/contents/made [Accessed 13/08/14]

    http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/publications/criminal-practice-directions-amendment-no-2/ http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2014/1610/contents/made

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    concede that the field of digital forensics still has some way to go. With that in mind, I have modified the requirement for digital forensics so please take careful note of the new requirement.

    The pathway to extending current scopes of accreditation may be long but being able to demonstrate reliability of a method (i.e. validation) before its use on live case work is a basic requirement which cannot, and should not, wait. I have accepted that there is much to do to achieve accreditation, I have given an implementation period of several years for some disciplines, the time ought to be well filled. It is not intended to suggest providers have several years grace from such a basic requirement of being able to show that a method not only is fit for purpose, but that specific provider is competent to use the method i.e. it works in your hands. The newly published Criminal Practice Directions support the contention that if the factors the courts may take into account in determining the reliability of expert opinion are not properly demonstrated then all should be very cautious about use of the expert, expertise or any evidence produced.

    Andrew Rennison M.Sc.

    The Forensic Science Regulator

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    Preface - Statement of Accreditation Requirements for all providers of forensic science services

    The Forensic Science Regulator expects that analytical and laboratory activities wherever performed to be conducted to the standards set out in Table 1, irrespective of whether the provider is public, police or commercial.

    Table 1: Statement of accreditation requirements3

    3 As this table has been completely reformatted, no changes are marked. As with the previous statement of

    accreditation requirements, the standard commencement dates for regulation of 6 April and 1 October apply.

    4 Covers all aspects of crime scene investigations, including fire scene and collision investigations.

    5 It is assessed that screening of items to the standards expected in the Criminal Justice System includes

    competence in low power microscopy and a presumptive blood test as a minimum.

    6 The Regulator expects any method used for imaging „conventional‟ hard drives to be validated as required

    in the Codes by October 2015 and an accreditation plan to be submitted detailing the steps to achieve accreditation. The intended scope for the 2017 target, is all digital forensic science (e.g. phones, computers, tablets, sat navigation systems, cell site analysis).

    7 This is for laboratory testing to evidential standards, presumptive drug testing (for example under

    Evidential Drug Identification Testing (EDIT) guidance) is currently permissible outside of the ISO17025 standards framework.

    Standards/requirements for forensic science activity

    Accreditation to BS EN

    ISO/IEC 17025/ 17020

    Accreditation scope to

    include Codes

    Appendix/

    Guidance

    Crime scene examination (BS/EN ISO 17020)4 Oct 2020 Oct 2020 UKAS

    RG201

    Visual screening, examination and/or sampling for biological material5

    Oct 2013 Oct 2017

    Processing recovered biological samples/material to obtain a DNA profile

    April 2012 Oct 2017 Oct 2017

    Enhancement, development, imaging, recording and recovery of visible/latent finger marks

    Oct 2015 Oct 2017

    Forensic Pathology A separate code of practice and performance standards applies - Oct 2012

    Toxicology Under consideration for ISO 17025 by Oct 2017

    Digital forensics6 Oct 2017 Oct 2017 In draft

    Blood pattern analysis April 2012 Oct 2017 In draft

    National DNA Database® (NDNAD) ISO9001 TickIT ISO17043

    Drug analysis to evidential standards7 April 2012 Oct 2017

    (Continued overleaf)

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    8 The Regulator is developing an appendix based upon BS/EN ISO 15189:2012.

    9 Assessment of standards for specialist photography and vehicle examination will be now be conducted in

    2014/15.

    Standards/requirements for forensic science activity (cont)

    Accreditation to BS EN

    ISO/IEC 17025

    Accreditation scope to

    include Codes

    Appendix/

    Guidance

    Firearms e.g. classification, Firearm Discharge Residue, firing marks, ballistics

    April 2012 Oct 2017 In draft

    Toolmark impression comparison April 2012 Oct 2017

    Fingerprint comparison Oct 2018 Oct 2018 In draft

    Anthropology Standalone Code of Practice

    Archaeology Standalone Code of Practice

    Podiatry Standalone Code of Practice

    Footwear impression screening Under consideration for ISO17025 by Oct 2017

    Footwear impression comparison to evidential standards

    April 2012 Oct 2017

    Sexual Assault Referral Centres8 Standard to be agreed

    Laboratory activity including, but not limited to, handling, developing, analysing and/or interpreting scientific evidence not listed separately here9

    Oct 2013 Oct 2017

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    Contents

    Foreword 2

    Preface - Statement of Accreditation Requirements for all providers of for